Oct 2, 2016

Lack Of Resolutions In The Wheel Of Time | Ask Wolf

Because I like reading and watching Science Fiction and Fantasy related novels and films I often get asked questions about these topics so I thought that I would try to answer some of these frequently asked questions in this new series Ask Wolf. I'm here to help and I'll try to answer any questions related to my interests.

Tim writes “Why does Robert Jordan set up big scale battles and then tell us nothing about the battles.”

Even though I've never read The Wheel of Time series, I've been involved in conversation with friends and others who have read this series. They too, have been frustrated by the same issues Tim mentions.

The Wheel of Time series is famous for avoiding resolutions, which is one of the reasons I've avoided it so far.

After extensive investigation I came across one article on Tor.com which I believe gives the best answer to this question and I will summarise it here.

Robert Jordan was well known for his methodical, consistent, and flowering prose. The world he created with his words feel solid, and old and ornate. Through his writing readers feel the weight of the history pushing The Wheel of Time forward.

Epic Fantasy And It's Characters

The Wheel of Time series is classified as an Epic Fantasy and in epic stories, the world is essentially its own character, and so the more detail that is brought into a fantasy world, the more that it develops its own characteristics. One of the most joyous moments a fiction writer can experience is when a character starts telling the writer how they’d react to a forthcoming plot development. The excitement an author feels over being able to craft this kind of independence and life makes it easy to overlook that the world that these characters inhabit is a character in itself and thus will also develop its own independence.

Staying True To Your Characters

Word among The Wheel of Time enthusiasts is that Robert Jordan very visibly struggled with the momentum of his fantasy world. The Wheel of Time contains a variety of eyebrow-raising structural decisions, some of them genius, and some of them puzzling. But the middle portion of the series, books 7 through 10, are, for lack of a better word riddled with “bloat”. What this means is that there is an overly intense focus on secondary or minor characters at the expense of the main characters.

Bloat becomes a bigger and bigger issue as a fantasy series continues onward, as background characters prove too vibrant to ignore, or a situation arises that can’t be solved via a simple battle. 

Bloat is not a purposeful choice that the author makes but it is a demand that a fantasy world makes of its creator, and is always supported by the momentum of that world. Bloat, in other words, is an author, in this case Robert Jordan, attempting to mollify his world and his readers at once.


So in short the reason why Robert Jordan sets up big scale battles but then fails to tell us anything about these battles is because of the complexity of the world he has created. And while is may be frustrating to his readers, he is being true to the characters he has created.


Did I get this right? Let me know what you think.

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